Indigenous art. Indigenous perspectives.

New Norval Morrisseau Project Launched


Major New Norval Morrisseau Project Launched by MacKenzie Art Gallery and Carleton University

By Angela Lackey

Regina, Sask. — The MacKenzie Art Gallery and Carleton University proudly announce the launch of Norval Morrisseau: Storylines, an innovative and interactive online publication dedicated to the life, art, and cultural legacy of Anishinaabe painter Norval Morrisseau (Bingwi Neyaashi Ojibwa, 1932–2007). This digital project marks a significant milestone in the appreciation and understanding of Morrisseau’s visionary contributions to Canadian art and Indigenous cultural heritage.

Norval Morrisseau

Norval Morrisseau (Bingwi Neyaashi Ojibwa, 1932–2007), “Thunderbird and Canoe in Flight, Norval on Scooter,” 1997, acrylic on canvas, 42 × 62 in., Westerkirk Works of Art. ©The Estate of Norval Morrisseau.

Renowned as the mishomis (grandfather) of a new artistic movement within Indigenous contemporary art, Morrisseau challenged the Canadian art establishment to embrace discourse related to Indigenous aesthetics and spirituality, leaving a lasting mark on generations of Indigenous artists. Despite his monumental influence on Canadian art history, this project is the first comprehensive account of Morrisseau’s life and art.

For the past four years, the Morrisseau Project: 1955–1985 team—based out of Carleton University and comprised of a diverse group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous experts and partner institutions—has diligently worked to create the first full scholarly study assessing Morrisseau’s achievements. Storylines make this research accessible to the public for the first time, sharing an extensive repository of heritage materials on Morrisseau from dozens of public institutions and private collections. The digital Storylines project now offers unprecedented access to many of these captivating heritage materials (some of which have never been publicly shared), available online for free.

The MacKenzie Art Gallery is proud to copublish this project, adding to a longstanding history and connection with the artist dating back to the 1980s including the exhibitions Two Worlds (1985), Exposed: Aesthetics of Aboriginal Erotic Art (2000), 7: Professional Native Indian Artists Inc. (2013–14), and Miskwaabik Animiiki Power Lines: The Work of Norval Morrisseau (2021–22). In honor of Morrisseau’s enduring legacy, this digital project aims to provide audiences with an interactive exploration of his life, art, and cultural contributions. Through this collaboration with the Morrisseau Project: 1955–1985, the MacKenzie Art Gallery continues its commitment to fostering dialogue and appreciation for Morrisseau’s groundbreaking contributions.

“Norval Morrisseau’s art represents what Canadian culture should be,” says MacKenzie Art Gallery Executive Director and CEO John G. Hampton (Chickasaw). “It is both a unique and a collective vision—drawing on the strength of Anishinaabeg histories from time immemorial, on personal and spiritual connections that bind the human and nonhuman, and on a vision for the future that we should all be aspiring towards. The material gathered by Carmen and the Morrisseau Project: 1955–1985 research team is an invaluable resource for all people of the world, sharing a vision for the world we need for all our relations. I am humbled and thrilled to help make their research free and accessible for all.”

In addition to celebrating Morrisseau’s profound legacy, the Storylines project also showcases Anishinaabeg ways of knowing and visual storytelling. Created in the spirit of Indigenous self-determination, it incorporates the voices and wisdom of Anishnaabe knowledge keepers and was designed with artistic direction from writer and artist Jay Odjick [a member of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinaabeg First Nation].

Norval Morrisseau: Storylines features a range of elements, such as a timeline of Morrisseau’s life illustrated through visuals, documents, archival audio, and video clips; a glossary of Anishinaabemowin terms with audio clips contributed by language carriers; and an interactive map that allows users to explore Morrisseau’s life and work across Turtle Island.


Norval Morrisseau: Storylines is a collaborative project presented by Carleton University and the MacKenzie Art Gallery. It would not have been possible without the support of many people dedicated to ensuring the legacy of Norval Morrisseau, his art, and his important contributions to the art world lives on.

Winnipeg Art Gallery

Winnipeg Art Gallery. Photo: Joe Passe (CC BY-SA 2.0).

A partner for this project, the Morrisseau Project: 1955–1985, works to conduct an exhaustive study of the life and art of Norval Morrisseau during the first 30 years of his career, housed at Carleton University under the direction of Carmen Robertson. This research team includes dedicated scholars, curators, and members of the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society, committed to sharing the many stories that Morrisseau gifted us all. This website is made possible, in part, through the research findings funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Members of our research team who made notable contributions to the content of this Heritage Canada–funded project include Alan Ojiig Corbiere (M’Chigeeng Ojibwe), Michelle McGeough, and Carmen Robertson (Lakota), along with support from Ruth Phillips, Trudy Nicks, and Richard Baker (Squamish).

We would like to thank our partner institutions, including the Indigenous Art Centre (Ottawa), the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), the Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto), and Westerkirk Works of Art (Toronto) for their institutional support throughout our larger project. By drawing upon art and archival materials from several other institutions and private collectors who generously shared their art and materials to make this project a reality, we are indebted to the Norval Morrisseau Estate Collection, many private collectors, and the following public institutions:

The Agnes, Art Gallery of Alberta, Art Gallery of Ontario, Indigenous Art Centre (CIRNAC), Museum of History, Market Gallery, McMaster’s Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, McMichael Canadian Art, Red Lake Heritage Centre, Royal Ontario Museum, Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Canadian Museum of History, National Gallery of Canada, and the University of Toronto Art Collection, featured in this project.

Several of the modules included in our project relied on the knowledge and ideas of Anishinaabe knowledge keepers, artists, and curators from all parts of Anishinaabe Aki. They include Alan Odjig Corbiere, Saul Williams, Sarah Johnson, Jay Odjick, Danielle Printup, Bonnie Devine, Jobena Petonoquot, Alex Nahwegabow, Patricia McGuire, Geraldine King, and Shaylin Allison. We also wish to extend a big thanks to Eugene Morriseau (Norval’s son) and Logan Fiddler (Norval’s great-grandson), who lent their voices to the modules.

The Carleton Storylines project team worked tirelessly to create and organize the content for this project. The team is comprised of Carmen Robertson, Kate Higginson (Project Manager), Lisa Truong (PhD candidate/Carleton); Stacy Ernst (PhD candidate/Carleton); Franchesca Hebert Spence (PhD student/Carleton); Emily Vile (MA student/Carleton); Michael Carrier (MA student/Carleton); Ali Shajari (student/Carleton) and Shaylin Allison (MA student/UVic).

The MacKenzie Art Gallery is the presenting institution for Norval Morrisseau: Storylines, coordinating the production, funding, and presentation of this website. The MacKenzie’s Norval Morrisseau: Storylines team was led by Caitlin Mullan, Head of Strategic Initiatives; John G. Hampton (Chickasaw), CEO; and Crystal Mowry, Director of Programs. The MacKenzie Art Gallery is supported through operating support from the MacKenzie Art Gallery Operating Endowment Fund at the South Saskatchewan, the Canada Council for the Arts, SKArts, the University of Regina, Sask Lotteries through SaskCulture, and the City of Regina.

The Storylines project was brought to life by the development team at Les Affranchis, led by Odile-Emmanuelle Auger and Hugo Vassal, with art direction from Jay Odjick.

This project has been made possible in part through funding provided by the Government of Canada and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

Finally, this project could not have been realized without invaluable support and input from the Morrisseau Estate under the direction of Cory Dingle.


Dr. Carmen Robertson, Director of the Morrisseau Project: 1955–1985: Carmen Robertson is the Canada Research Chair in North American Art and Material Culture in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Carleton University in Ottawa, ON. A Scots-Lakota professor of art history, Robertson leads the SSHRC-funded Morrisseau Project: 1955–1985. and in 2016, published both Norval Morrisseau: Art and Life (Art Canada Institute) and Mythologizing Norval Morrisseau: Art and the Colonial Narrative in the Canadian Media (University of Manitoba Press) and has published numerous essays on this subject in journals and edited collections.

Dr. Kate Higginson, Project Coordinator for the Morrisseau Project: 1955–1985: Kate Higginson is the Research Project Manager for the Morrisseau Project: 1955–1985, as well as for the Transgender Media Lab, which is also based at Carleton University. Kate received her PhD in Indigenous and Canadian Literatures from McMaster University and came to Carleton for an SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship on creative rematriations and digital reclamations of Indigenous knowledges. At Carleton, she has taught undergraduate courses on Canadian and Indigenous literatures and worked as the Research Manager and Communications Director for the international Great Lakes Research Alliance on Indigenous Arts and Cultures (GRASAC).

Lisa Truong, Project Development Contributor for the Morrisseau Project: 1955–1985: Lisa Truong is a doctoral candidate at Carleton University’s Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art and Culture. Her research is an institutional history of the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation in M’Chigeeng, Manitoulin Island, as part of the larger history of indigenous cultural center development in Canada since the 1960s. Her interest in the intersections of Indigenous histories, museums, and digital knowledge sharing has led her to work with the Great Lakes Research Alliance for the Study of Aboriginal Arts and Cultures and the Morrisseau Project: 1955–1985.

Emily Vile, Digital Designer for the Storylines project: Emily Vile is passionate about the intersection of art, technology, and education. She is currently pursuing a master’s in communications and data science at Carleton University. She holds an MA in art and architectural history specializing in digital humanities from Carleton University, a B.Ed. and a B.A from Queen’s University and a post-graduate certification in digital marketing from the Telfer School of Business. Emily is a lead digital designer for the Norval Morrisseau: Storylines project and a Morrisseau Project: 1955–1985 team member. Emily has held positions in various teaching positions in galleries and classrooms.


  • Norval Morrisseau: Storylines Project | link
  • Winnipeg Art Gallery | link
  • Carleton University | link
  • The Estate of Norval Morrisseau | link

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